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Chuck vs. The Epilog part 3

(Six months after the events of the finale, Chuck flashes the impossible flash, and discovers something that will let them save Sarah Bartowski’s memories, before Sarah Walker leaves him forever!)

Chuck vs. Sarah vs. Sarah

Morgan and Alex had waited up for them all this time. And Ellie, too. It would have seemed sweet except that they were all sitting bolt upright on Morgan’s couch, while Sarah sat in a chair between them and the door, drinking lemonade. She didn’t appear threatening in any way, no gun in her hands or anything, but that meant nothing. She knew twenty-six ways to kill a man without one.

“I know twenty-six ways to kill a man with my bare hands,” she said, getting to her feet. “Granted, most of them don’t work with this…watermelon stapled to my belly but there are only three of you.” She put her glass down but that did not make any of them feel better. “You want to tell me what’s going on?”

Chuck tried to paste on a smile, but it felt a little crooked. “Wh–what do you think’s going on, uh, sweetie?”

“I’m sure I don’t know, husband, since you’ve all gone to extreme lengths to keep me in the dark. It’s enough to make a girl feel paranoid. You don’t want me to feel paranoid, do you, Chuck?”

He raised his hands, palms out. No weapons here. “Absolutely not, dear.”

“Good. So you want to tell me why Beckman sent her number one Intersect specialist, who just happens to be my sister-in-law, to visit us? Or why I would hear an Apache helicopter pass overhead? Or why the tracker in your shoe positioned you a hundred miles away? Well, I guess that explains the helicopter, at least. What’s in Barstow, Chuck?”

Deep breath. Tell the truth. “A defunct Fulcrum base. You and I rescued my father from it, and Colonel Casey called in an air strike. We discovered Quinn was using it after a raid on his safehouse.”

“You have been busy.”

“It was all for you, Sarah!”

“I don’t have the Intersect.”

“But you did!”

“I don’t have the Intersect, I don’t want the Intersect. It and Quinn robbed me of my life, and now I just want to move on. I just want to have this baby and get out of here!” Oops. She hadn’t meant to say that. Her face fell.

His face fell. “You want to leave?”

“I have to leave! I have to get as far away from you as it’s possible to get and I will do everything in my power to never think of you again.”

“I know.”

“You knew?”

“I never saw you smile, not a real smile. Do you care for me so little? Do you want to be a spy that much?”

Sarah launched herself at him. Do you think I don’t feel it?” Her slap spun his head around and threw him against the wall. Ellie stood up, but Casey waved her off. Sarah grabbed Chuck’s shirt, yelled into his face. “Do you think I remember nothing? I’m not a blank slate. I wish Quinn had stolen all of me!” She dropped her head onto his shoulder. “I remember…cups! Broken watches! Beaches, and walls, and every single one of these microscopic moments of my life glows with the love she felt for you!” She pushed away from him, desperately, and he didn’t try to hold on to her. “This child is her child, and it may be a consolation for you but it’s only pain for me!”

“But we can fix that!”

“How? Can you remove these last few memories?”

He shook his head. “We can put the others back!”

That brought her up short. “You can do that? They told me you couldn’t do that!”

“Ellie…Ellie thinks maybe we can. But we weren’t sure. We just didn’t want to tell you until after we went to Barstow. We didn’t want to get your hopes up.”

“My hopes up? What makes you think you’ll get my hopes up?”

“But…you’re my wife!”

“No. She’s your wife. I’m your handler. I burn assets like you, I don’t fall in love with them.”

“You did.”

“No, she did. She was willing to pay for that love with an ocean of pain but I’m not, and I’m not going to let you destroy me just so you can have your precious Sarah Bartowski back. You’re in love with another woman who happens to be me!”

“I don’t want Sarah Bartowski back. I want Sarah back. I want you.”

Sarah shook her head. “You can’t have us both.”

“What are you afraid of?” asked Gertrude suddenly. “It can’t be pain, Sarah Walker would never fear pain.”

She didn’t fear pain. She feared what was bought with pain. “You don’t know how it feels.”

Verbanski smiled. “I don’t? You think you’re the only woman who loves in this room?” She took Casey’s hand, and he let her. “You think you’re the only woman who fears to love? We all do. Love burns, yes, but only because you keep turning away from it.”

Sarah turned away, but on her other side was Alex, holding Morgan’s hand fiercely. Before her was Chuck. She stared at the floor.

“Sarah,” said Ellie, “It’s not you or her. She won’t overwrite you. It’ll be you and her.”

 

Everyone was gathered in Castle’s conference room, even General Beckman watched from her office. Ellie placed two items on the table, a pair of sunglasses, and the suppressor panel. “I’ve modified both devices. The Intersect has no download capacity, all it can do is compress and decompress your memories. The decompression module and the suppressor have both been fixed to look in the correct place for where the altered memories should be. Do you have any questions?”

“The Intersect won’t hurt me? Take any more of the memories I have?”

Ellie shook her head. “It won’t flash. All we’ll do is upload it and then suppress it. The suppressor activates the decompressor.”

Sarah was scared, of course. They all knew it. They supported her completely. She knew it. She reached out a hand that thankfully didn’t shake and picked up the glasses. “Here goes.” She put the glasses on. Something flashed, and was gone. “Did it work?”

“I think so,” said Ellie. “Unfortunately we can’t test this, without the ability to flash. There are tests, but my lab’s back in Chicago.”

Sarah rested her head in her hands. She could have mentioned that! God her head hurt.

“Pain?” asked Ellie.

Sarah nodded.

“Good,” said Ellie. “Everyone except Chuck complains of headaches, so I’d say it worked.”

“Hurray for the empirical method,” Sarah croaked. She raised her head. “Can we get it out now?”

“Absolutely,” said Ellie, holding up the suppressor. “Look at this.”

 

She blinked in the afterglow of the suppressor flash. “Ow, that’s bright!” No one replied. She looked up. Ellie was still holding the panel out, but it was a dull gray now. Ellie’s eyes didn’t track her motion. She seemed frozen. They all did. “Ellie? Chuck?” She got up out her chair. No one moved. She turned.

Sarah stood on the stairs, leather catsuit and all. “Where do you think you’re going?”

She had to go, had to get back to… Her clothes smelled like sausage. She looked down.

“Not bad, as cover identities go,” said catsuit-Sarah, walking over. “Most people would underestimate you. Even me.”

“He didn’t.” She threw a punch.

Catsuit-Sarah dodged it easily. Like she knew it was coming. “Maybe not, but what did he know? Easy to impress the yokels.”

“I kept him alive.” She kicked air.

“Did you?” Catsuit-Sarah pushed, sending the other girl to her knees. “How many times did he save your life?”

She couldn’t count. “Often enough,” she hedged.

Catsuit-Sarah laughed. “That little? Oh my, someone’s not being honest.” She kicked her opponent, laid her out flat.

She rolled out of range, coming to her feet in an orange tank-top and slacks.

“That’s a better look for you, I have to admit. I’m sure he liked it better.” Catsuit-Sarah moved in swinging.

Tanktop-Sarah caught the blow with a forearm block. “He didn’t care what I looked like.”

Catsuit-Sarah laughed. “I’m sure he didn’t. That’s why you went to such lengths to dress up for him. Because he didn’t care.”

“I didn’t dress up for him.” She aimed a punch, only to get tangled in the folds of her red evening gown.

“Of course you didn’t.” Catsuit-Sarah grabbed a fold of the gown and swung Gown-Sarah into the corners, into the dark. “And all the men you oh-so-conveniently met. Just doing your job.”

She flew out of the dark in full tactical gear. “Yes! He was my responsibility. He was my job.”

Catsuit-Sarah fell back under her assault.“My job is my life.”

Tactical-Sarah moved in. “Yes. He is my life. No.”

“Yes,” said Catsuit-Sarah. “He is your life.”

She looked down at the bridal gown she wore.

“Fight me,” said Catsuit-Sarah, grinning. “If you can, in that.”

Bride-Sarah looked at her other, former self, panting, waiting, ready, like she could go on forever. Like she would. “No.”

Catsuit-Sarah stood straight, dropping her defense. “You’re weak.”

Bride-Sarah walked closer, slowly. “No. You’re weak. You need opposition, your defenses are always up. How many names have you had? How many lives? I need only the one.” Sarah Bartowski gripped the leather catsuit and tore it like paper. Under it were jeans, a blouse.

Normal clothes.

Her former self smiled. “I couldn’t let it be easy. That’s not what we’re made of.”

Sarah smiled back. “No, it isn’t. Have a nice life.” She pushed…

 

Sarah slammed back into her chair, gasping and choking. Ellie was already at her side and Chuck wasn’t far behind. “Sarah!”

Her name, his voice. “Chuck!” She wrapped her arms around him and buried her face in his neck, his hair, breathing in the scent of him for the first time in…months. Her life. He kept her alive, every day. Cacophony reigned but she tuned it all out until she heard an imperious voice she couldn’t ignore.

“Agent Walker!”

She turned her head, staring up at the screen from the shelter of her husband’s arms. “Agent Walker-Bartowski, General.”

 

“Well, Doctor Bartowski?”

“She appears to be fully recovered, General. Physically fit, and she responded correctly to some basic questions. I want to give her some time to recover before I try anything more strenuous, and of course my lab in Chicago…”

“Yes, I’ll arrange some leave. We’ll send a courier for the suppressor and that other card of Quinn’s, they’ll be waiting for you when you get back. I’ll expect your full report ASAP.”

“You’ll have it, General.” The screen went blank. “I hate it when she does that.”

Then Casey stuck something in her hand, a glass filled from Chuck’s very large bottle of chardonnay. “Congratulations, Doctor.”

“To all of us, John. And to Sarah.” They all drank to that. “Morgan, you had the Intersect too, didn’t you?”

“Ellie,” Morgan took Alex’ hand, “Sarah lost her life, she needed the cure. Me, I think I’m a better man now, and I want to stay that way. I mean, what did I lose, a few hundred hours of old video games?”

“Thousands,” Ellie murmured.

“I got back the important stuff, like Episode IV, although if you could figure a way to get Jar-Jar out of my head I’d be much obliged. But I’ll pass.”

Casey smiled. “Cheers.”

Back to Part 2

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